Brave pensioner averts blaze tragedy

PUBLISHED: 12:23 21 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 March 2010

A BRAVE Ipswich pensioner told today how he fought flames that threatened to engulf his beloved piano and antique violin.

A BRAVE Ipswich pensioner told today how he fought flames that threatened to engulf his beloved piano and antique violin.

And in a separate incident an Ipswich grandmother has warned of the perils of burning candles in a bedroom following a fire in her home.

Alfred Walker, 84, from Bucklesham Road, was horrified when a lamp next to his piano overheated and set fire to curtains at around 6.30pm yesterday.

But instead of leaving the fire to destroy his house and his precious musical instruments, the music teacher grabbed a small fire extinguisher and tried to put the flames out himself.

Although he could not move the piano out of the way, Mr Walker grabbed the violin and moved it to another part of the house.

Miraculously the flames did not damage the piano or spread to any of the music books that were placed on top of the instrument.

However, the blaze did travel along the curtains, completely destroying them and leaving the house heavily smoke-logged.

Mr Walker said: "I did not want anything to be damaged and I certainly did not want it spreading to the rest of the house.

"So I grabbed a small extinguisher and put it out – but then it started again so I called the fire brigade."

Two passers-by spotted the flames and offered to help Mr Walker, followed by some of his neighbours who realised that something was amiss.

Mr Walker said: "By the time the fire brigade arrived the fire was actually out but there was so much smoke in here.

"I was worried that the water may spoil the piano but the fire service were very good and it didn't."

Later that night at around 11.30pm fire crews were called to the home of Sybil Gorham, in Cauldwell Hall Road, after her grandson, 15-year-old Simon Quinton, fell asleep and left a candle burning in his room.

The candle had burned down and then dripped onto the floor.

Mrs Gorham, 60, said: "I didn't know there was fire until I opened his door and saw the flames and the smoke.

"We do have a smoke alarm but the wooden doors are so thick it was containing the fire.

"I woke Simon up and he was screaming and was really frightened."

Mrs Gorham has seven cats and two dogs who she was extremely worried about.

She said: "I got my other grandson Will, to take the dogs outside and I think all the cats had made their own escape."

Although damage to the room was only small, Mrs Gorham said it served as a stark warning to others never to burn candles in your room.

She said: "Candles are so dangerous – we were very lucky.

"I woke Simon up and told him to get out, closed the door again and phoned the fire brigade.

"Things could have been so much worse for us if I had not gone in there."

Fire crews from Sudbury, Melford and Nayland were also called to another house fire in a terraced property in Chelsworth Avenue, Great Cornard.

The fire started just at around 12.15am and was under control by 1.10am.

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